The Powder Room, Where Drama Should Live !


I am all about a crazy powder room.  I just finished and posted about a Matthew Williamson, paper filled install (here) we just completed for the Parkers.  Firm believer in a splashy powder room.  A space all your guests will visit and talk about, if it's interesting and fun !  I am in the process of installing another for a fearless client.  Happy to say she was thrilled with the look I created for her first floor, and as soon as this powder room is done next week, I will post all the pictures we have taken of this first floor (dream job).   Oh . . so back to her powder room.  I cannot wait to see the paper go up next week. When I saw Martyn Lawrence Bullard's marbled paper in the Kips Bay designer house last spring, I haven't been able to get it out of my mind !  It was my first choice for this space in the blue colorway. The powder room, located just off the foyer - like most - needed to tie, color wise to what we had just finished.  Blues, Reds, Teals, Greys.  Like most small powder rooms, it had your typical light fixture over the sink, over the mirror.  Up way too high and average in style.  I got rid of it.  Not wanting to do the typical art-over-potty thing, I added a new sconce in between the sink and potty and then added two square mirrors for a ton of symmetry.  These mirrors are tufted and upholstered in a faux leather so water won't be an issue and add a little softness to what can be such a hard space.  I cannot wait to see it all done (and if this plan of mine even works !)

House Beautiful  spotlighted 60 + Designer Bathrooms (here) and if you hit Pinterest you might get inspired as well . . . take a look at a few of my favorites (with all photographers and designers credited here).  I am finding on thing in common with all the design inspiration I am drawn to.  The under mount, metal leg, vintage inspired sink.  If major storage is not an issue, these sinks are so beautiful and the perfect look for a powder room.

I love to work on these small spaces.  I'd had fun in the past with these powder rooms below, and hope to keep thinking of new ways to make these frequently visited spots interesting and beautiful.

photos by mekenzie france

Install of the Day !


The Powder Room.  Go nuts, it's your perfect opportunity.  Afraid of wall paper (why?!) - it a small enough space so the commitment isn't huge.  When we installed Mary Frances Parker's killer dining room (here) we also installed her Powder Room down the hall.  Such a nice tie back.  She loves saturation and pattern and this paper by Matthew Williamson did the trick.  Busy, rich in color and whimsical, just like her home.  I feel it's quite sophisticated.  Take a look !

A few things about this space . . .  we worked around these simple sconces and - well, interesting sink.  Fans we were not, but didn't want to ripe it all out, so I was challenged to make it look better.  We both fell in love with the paper, and now it's what you see, not the weird sink.

I searched for a mirror that was both oval, "organic" in lines, silver . . but distressed and inexpensive.  I found this piece, but the finish was not my favorite.  Out came the paint brush.  We painted it kelly green first, then overlaid a silver leaf for a more antique finish.  

Window, one small one.  With the wall paper being our complete budget, I was driven to do something cool, yet free, yes free !  I found, at my studio, this left over custom paper.  Love, love the texture !  With privacy not being a big concern I simply cut it, rolled it at the top to have the feel of a roman shade and staple gunned it on the molding !  Voila, done.

The colors of our dining room now make another appearance across the hall and it's company ready !

Matthew Williamson's paper is the showstopper.  Available in several color ways, it's fun and light.

His fabrics are rich with a Moroccan and Indian vibe.

He's coming out with a new collection in the fall, Nature inspired as well.  

Spotlight Kirsty Mitchell, The Wonderland Series

Hey There . . .

Don't you love (or are you scared by) Parker's black dining room.  I have heard a lot of comments like, "I'm not that adventurous, but I would love to have dinner in there !"  It's not for everyone, but it is fun and it's absolutely a look that needs to continue, very carefully, though out the home, if you choose to embrace that strong a color palette.   I love the fact that, as a whole, it's artistic and not average, a statement kind of room.  The butterfly and flower wall paper is by far one of my favorite elements. Butterflies are big right now and I have always loved them.  Their delicate wings with intricate colors and detail have always amazed me.  Each so different.  Nature's abstract canvas.  Osborne and Little introduced Butterfly Garden as part of their Spring 2014 collection and I could not wait to incorporate it in a design.  Mary Fran took about a minute to agree and we incorporated their paper on her dining room ceiling.  In the Fall of 2014 Matthew Williamson for Osborne and Little will be embracing nature as well with a series of dragonfly papers and fabric.  (Stay tuned for Mary Fran's Powder Room and another nature inspired paper !)  Nature . . . such an inspiration for design. 

When I wrote the post, I started off with a photo by Kirsty Mitchell, that I felt captured the overall feel of the room I designed.   I came across her photography one day and spend hours reading about her and her journey.   Thought I would share and elaborate on it a bit being that I was so captivated by her "Wonderland" series.  I have never seen a series so detailed, so magical and with a story behind it that is so beautiful.  Her work in amazing.

photo by kirsty mitchell

From her site, these are just a few of my favorite images from the Wonderland Series she created.

Kirsty's site (here) contains the story behind the series, a must read - take a minute, or two.

"Wonderland began in the summer of 2009 and has now been running for five years.  It was started in memory of Kirsty's mother Maureen who died in late 2008 and was the turning point in her approach to photography and consequently her entire life" . . . says Mitchell.

"The Story Behind Wonderland"

"My mother was an English teacher who spent over thirty years inspiring generations of children with her stories and plays.  She was rarely seen without her head in a book, or writing in her own diaries, which she had kept since I was young.  She was lost to a brain tumor that left her too ill to be brought home to England from the small French village where she and my father retired.  Instead of a funeral full of her ex pupils, we had to make do with a tiny family gathering which left me heart broken and needing to do something that would never let her be forgotten.

In the months that followed real life became a difficult place to deal with, and I found myself retreating further into an alternative existence through the portal of my camera.  This escapism grew into the concept of creating an unexplained storybook without words, dedicated to her, that would echo the fragments of the fairy tales she read to me constantly as a child.  Originally it began as a small idea in the form of just a few shoots that would span the summer, but nothing prepared me for the emotional journey it became, and the very special friendships it produced.  From the moment I met hair and makeup artist Elbie Van Eeden, there was a sense of something deeper.  We became very close, and the project blossomed into our own private playground within the woodlands that surrounded my home.  Both of us were still in full time jobs and so had to spend out evenings and weekends creating props, wings and sets out of the most basic of materials, to try and achieve results as convincing as possible.  There was little budget, so we relied on the kindness of strangers donating their unwanted treasures, and anything else we could scavenge or customize.

As the series developed I found it became an elaborate melting pot of my backgrounds in fashion design and costume making, as well as passion for art history and the English countryside.  I chose my local landscape as our setting and searched for areas of natural wonder, which could convey my feeling that despite its theatrical inhabitants, Wonderland was in fact real . . . and all around us.  Over time I developed a deep bond and respect for the locations in which I worked, and hoped that through my pictures I could remind others of their forgotten magic and beauty.  I became fascinated with the pockets of wild flowers that would appear for only a few brief weeks of the year, such as the English bluebells.  In some cases I would wait the full cycle of 12 months in order to return prepared with a concept and model, to capture the scene in full bloom.  These vivid natural colors in turn dictated those of the costumes, and soon a pattern began to emerge.

I quickly found that the physical creating became my favorite part - the chance to step into the scenes for real was unlike any other experience in my life to date.  It made my daily existence a better and richer place, and slowly helped me deal with my grief.  At first people presumed everything was created in Photoshop, the scale of the props, the colors, even the entire landscapes the models were in !  So I began to write thorough diary accounts about each piece and took behind the scenes photographs of the shoots and costumes being, so the viewer could understand the amount of work involved.  There were no stylists, designers or professional support teams and nothing was commissioned.  It was simply a few passionate friends working for free, with what I could afford out of my wages every month, whilst I begged and borrowed the rest.

As the pictures evolved I pushed the concepts further with some of the new characters taking up to five months to create.  It became impossible to cope with working as a fashion designer and developing the series in my spare time and annual leave.  So eventually in December of 2011 I left my 10-year career behind, to dedicate my future to finishing the series and producing the book and exhibition.

It has been a roller coaster of emotion, and an enormous amount of effort, but now (finally) at the point of writing this in March of 2014, Wonderland is almost complete.  There are currently 72 pieces in the collection, with a final 5 on the way.  In the last few years our little world has grown wings and finally broken through to the major international  press being recognized by Harper's Bazaar, Italian Vogue, The Daily Mail, the BBC News, MSN, the Huffington Post and countless magazines and blogs around the world.  The response and support has been utterly overwhelming and humbling, and something that still amazes me daily.  I have met so many extraordinary people and been so moved by the reactions of others, that it feels like the project has become a fairytale in it's own right.

It is true to say that in losing my mother I lost so much, but equally this new unexpected path has changed my life forever.  So, no matter how sad the origins are, I am so very grateful for what has happened, and the precious friends I have gained.  At present I still don't know what the future holds, but the day I see my mother's name printed on the inside cover of the Wonderland book, it will feel like I have finally fulfilled my promise to myself and her precious memory.  I miss her so much . . . .  . . . 

This if for you mum .. x

Kirsty Mitchell

I think what really amazed me were the props with all their artistic detail.  All created by hand - no Photoshop here.  The way she captured the light in her images - gorgeous.

Take a closer look at the most amazing props they created . . .

all photos by kirsty mitchell

My thanks to Kirsty for taking me to another place and such inspiration !

Happy dreamy Sunday.


Install of the Day !

Hey There . . .

Some things are worth waiting for !  Mary Frances Parker's dining room is one of them.  I have been so excited to add the final details to this space - one of my all time favorites.   Afraid of color and pattern, this girl is not.  I remember when she came to me.  At our first meeting she emailed me picture after picture of crazy bright, saturated color and numerous pattern on pattern for inspiration.  It has been so much fun pulling this home tougher.  Take a look here at just what we installed last year.

Now the time has come to finish the dining room.  I found this image by artist, Kristy Mitchell that sums up the feel for me  . . .

photo by kristy mitchell

We started with the paint, back when we painted the whole house.  Black - shinny, pure black.  I love a black dining room.  The pops of color are what keep it from looking like a dark hole.  A black dining room is so dramatic and for some reason, lingering after dinner happens.  While paint should be the last thing you do, we knew we wanted black and working around it is easy, it's a "neutral."

After we painted, the next addition was the papered ceiling.  An amazing Osborne and Little combination of black and white floral with pops of colorful butterflies.  Next, Mary Fran found vintage chairs with lucite legs and gave me to recover.  Now the time has come for the chandelier, window treatments, area rug and centerpiece !

Seeing the design board come to life was been something I have been so anxious for.

Take a look at what we finished yesterday.  I stood and breathed a sigh of success.  She was thrilled, I was stoked and her husband, a big fat "yes" to the rug to complete the room.  I knew without it the table would disappear into the floor and the space would feel heavy - it was important. 

I am in love !!!

This rug, by Stark, has so much gorgeous texture.  Treat it (if you are local - by Fiber Services . . . tell them Lucy and Company sent you) and not to worry about the light color.  The high pile is also forgiving and hides a multitude of crumbs !!  But most importantly . . . the lightness of it against the dark floor and walls is perfect, perfect.  Kudos Maggie for the selecting.  Score !

These chairs . . . what can I say.  Mary Fran has great taste and she found these on Etsy !! Originally a rose colored velvet - we quickly had them re-upholstered using two fabrics.  A kelly green velvet on the back, wrapping to the front and a fun, multi-color graphic stripe from Harlequin.  The lucite legs with the gold detail are what really make these vintage chairs something special.

My client's  big pop of art on the black walls is even more eye-catching.

This chandelier is the perfect choice and does not detract or block our beautiful ceiling (available at Lucy and Company).

 Light, airy window treatments with an embroidered navy graphic circle.

And a center piece . .  I came across at Crate and Barrel - simple and artistic in shape, light and airy in color.

I am just so happy with this space !!

We chose a new chandelier for the foyer as well.  This piece I recently installed in white for another client (here) , but with the new introduction of black (as well as about 6 other amazing colors) I had to try it in  black - and it's gorgeous.  Happy to source that as well - give us a call and see all the colors available (red, blue, white, black, and green).

Ok . . this rug was another perfect find Maggie came across at Stark when I sent her to find options (the girl knows her rugs !)   We all loved it as well !!

all photos by mekenzie france

Mekenzie did such a beautiful job capturing this space.  It's definitely for the adventurous.  A dining room (and powder room) are, in my opinion, a place to have fun with.  Everyone hits a powder room, and for a fun dinner party or holiday, why not entertain in a space that is enveloping, conversational and cozy.  This space will be one to linger in.  Dining Rooms are also often at the entry point of the home, so that visual impact sets the tone and calls attention to what's coming next !

Mary Fran's foyer, along with the rest of the first floor has been painted (or in the foyer's case, wall papered with a white leopard print) which absolutely gives her furniture, accessories and art a gorgeous back drop.  The two front rooms - the dining and soon to be tackled "lounge" are the more intense, dramatic spaces, but the balance of black and white keep the entire first floor from looking too crazy !

Our next project, the adjacent lounge.

The focal point will be the paper and fabrics . . . yum.

Happy Color !